The International Writers Magazine-REALITY CHECK US Elections
Democratic Insider Ways In
On The Fight to Battle George Bush
Jan 19th - Kerry Wins Iowa
John Edwards 2nd
Howard Dean - also ran
Gephardt quits the race
Before the Iowa Caucus surprise results)
Time is running out on separating the wheat from the chaff in the Democratic
run for a presidential nomination. By the time these words hit the streets,
there will have been a victor in the achingly hollow Iowa caucuses and
less than a week until the all-important New Hampshire Primary, which
will likely jettison pretenders like John Kerry, John Edwards, Joseph
Lieberman, and the ancillary voices of the past six months of jumbled
screamfests masked as debates.
What is slowly shaping up to be a two-man race between General Wesley
Clark and frontrunner, Howard Dean (with a weak nod for Dick Gephardt
to stay afloat if he challenges in Iowa) could solidify in the next
two weeks. But historically these things have a way of settling themselves
outside the voter realm; ie - party backbiting, financial favors, power
jostling and painfully delivered public retractions.
The following is the first of a two-part discussion held over two phone
conversations on the evenings of 1/13 and 1/14 with our well-ensconced
Dem snitch, affectionately known in this space for the past seven years
as Dibbs. The aim is to get a read on how these political variables,
often left for revisionists to decipher, could affect the outcome of
jc: Lets begin on the general assumption that Dean will win a
close draw in Iowa and bury the bottom feeders in NH.
Dibbs: Iowa will go to Dean in a close race with Gephardt, but it will
be a squeaker. But if Clark beats Kerry out for second in NH, and Kerry
is running third in every poll right now, his money sources will run
for cover. This is why he spent 40 minutes on Meet The Press Sunday
(1/11) referring to everyone in the race except for Clark. He has chosen
to ostensibly ignore him.
jc: And why Im sure Dean has gone the other way on Clark these
past few days, calling him a closet Republican. Dean needs to knock
Clark down a peg. He would rather beat a fellow New Englander than have
a wild card pull in a surprising second. To me, this legitimizes Clarks
recent surge in the polls.
DB: This is expected. The Clark people have studied what Eisenhower
went through when he announced as a Republican in 52. There are
still doubts to what Clark is going present in way of opposition in
a general election campaign, but there is a great deal of fringe party
support for Clark.
jc: I wanted to start with Dean, but since were on Clark, is he
the partys only hope to derail what I heard you guys are calling
The Dean Debacle?
DB: Nonsense. No one I work with has any problem if Dean is the nominee,
and there is no tertiary plans to back any particular candidate at this
time. It is the peoples choice.
jc: Yes, and the first pig flight out of Reagan National is at dawn.
DB: Why do you bother to ask?
jc: Where does Clark need to be in NH if he wants to compete on Super
DB: Right where he is. Taking NH has hurt trailers in the past. I think
its better for him to ease into this thing. Three weeks ago he
was third at 10% there, now hes in second at 20% with a bullet.
And, by the way, the most important number is what Kerry comes in at.
jc: I have a Boston Herald poll open online right now, and Kerry is
a dismal 15% for Christs sake. It was ridiculous he was trailing
Dean on Christmas Day, now hes behind Clark and off the radar.
What the hell happened there?
DB: I think Iraq killed a lot of these guys. They supported some part
of military action when it was hip, and then when things got hairy,
Kerry, Lieberman and Gephart vacillated. Then when Hussein was captured
you heard another spin. Dean hasnt been popular with his pompous
anti-war rhetoric, but he has been fairly consistent. And that is the
base of this party right now.
DB: More than anything else.
jc: Other than his clever use of Internet shut-ins and galvanizing the
fickle youth vote, what is the Dean appeal right now?
DB: Mostly Dean is comfortable in the role of ultimate opponent. We
believe, and I cant speak for all the big party people, but most
of the skinny coming out of the Terry McAuliffe staff is that 47% of
people who voted for Gore outright, without any state breakdown, is
an automatic Democratic vote. And the independents Gore lost, along
with what Nader robbed could make any of our candidates formidable for
Bush. This nonsense about Dean being McGovern just doesnt hold
jc: Unless Iraq implodes in the next six months, I dont see anyway
these Midwestern lower middleclass voters are going to run out to vote
for a staunch anti-war liberal candidate with their kids still in harms
way. Again, that all depends on where Iraq goes by August. It is looking
more and more like the economy will no longer be an issue by April,
but no one expects Iraq to cool by election day. These deadlines for
massive withdrawal are fiction.
DB: All indications are there will be no discovery of weapons of mass
destruction and soldiers will continue to die steadily. And I guess
it doesnt bother the nation their president unabashedly lied to
them about Iraq?
jc: You mean like FDR, Truman and LBJ?
DB: Have you heard this latest bullshit about how there have been less
attacks on American troops since the Saddam capture? Right. Now they
only hit helicopters and kill nine and ten at a time, instead of a measly
one or two. Five less attacks, same number of dead. Sounds to me like
Viet Nam, but were not supposed to get into those comparisons.
jc: Viet Nam? Weve been there ten minutes. Viet Nam is still going
on. Anyway, I cant give Bush any more credit than I gave Reagan
with Iran/Contra. Bush is a dupe. The pentagon has to lie. It justifies
DB: Mark this down, the war will decide Bushs fate. We are betting
jc: Never mind the general election. Back to Clark. Is there or is there
not a divide between Clark/Clinton Dems and the rest of the party with
DB: There is, but not to the extent that is being speculated. There
were the same chasms in 92 with Reagan Republicans and the Bush
sr. people. Conservative killed Bush in 92 by voting for Perot.
I think Dean takes care of the liberal vote, even though; ironically
the man has a conservative fiscal record in Vermont.
jc: Where is the liberal vote if Clark is the nominee?
DB: Again, our best research indicates, firmly, that the national vote
is as split as it was in 2000. You want to go over those numbers again?
If a few dumb ass districts in Florida could vote without a color chart
youre talking to your buddy, Georgetown about the Republican primary
right now. Things have not changed, unless you consider this piss-poor
economy with record unemployment, a massive deficit, and a war on two
fronts. The Democratic vote is out there. The question is will they
be motivated enough to cast it.
© James Campion Jan 20th 2004
Iowa Dogfight Revisited 22nd Jan
Readers Letters to James
Previously by James Campion on Hackwriters
More Lifestyles and Comment
all rights reserved